A Missouri company has pled guilty in federal court to importing thousands of lamps from China bearing counterfeit certification labels, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
GuildMaster, of Springfield, Mo., represented in court by Stephen Crowder, the company’s president, pled guilty to the felony offense of trafficking in goods with counterfeit marks. The company manufactures and imports furniture, lighting, accessories and wall art.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, GuildMaster must forfeit 5,585 lamps, worth about $1.8 million, that were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The company also received five years of probation and forfeited $43,786 in cost bonds.
In December 2011, CBP discovered that lamps imported by GuildMaster bore fraudulent Underwriters Laboratories labels. UL is an independent product safety certification organization accredited for safety testing by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. From January to March, agents seized 10 shipments bearing fake UL labels originating from Dongguan, China, and bound for GuildMaster in Springfield. Authorities also executed a search and seizure warrant at GuildMaster’s business office and warehouse in Springfield.
“This prosecution sends the important message that companies importing goods from overseas may not gain a competitive advantage over those that play by the rules, by cutting corners when it comes to safety or intellectual property rights,” said Tammy Dickinson, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, in a written statement.